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Cloud and open source meet to test Web apps

Start-up Sauce Labs receives funding to support open-source Selenium project on-premise and in the cloud.


The world has largely moved from a client/server application development model to a Web-based app development model. Web app developers have to keep up with frequent new browser releases from Microsoft (IE), Apple (Safari), Mozilla (Firefox), and Google (Chrome) in order to enhance their experience and keep up-to-date with security vulnerabilities.

With more applications being built for the Web, cross-browser testing is crucial to application performance. More than 2 million people have turned to an open-source, cross-browser testing platform called Selenium, to solve this problem.

Selenium is a popular open-source cross-browser testing tool that was created by Jason Huggins in 2004 while at the global IT consultancy ThoughtWorks. The project quickly gained popularity with Web developers who weren't about to shell out the dough for proprietary tools such as Mercury (which is now a part of HP) or Rational (now a part of IBM).

Selenium comes in two major versions--Selenium Remote Control (RC) allows cross-browser testing for developers comfortable with writing code in Java, Ruby, Python, C Sharp, or Perl and Selenium IDE--a Firefox-only tool architected for new users. According to and add-on download stats, Selenium has more than 2.6 million downloads to date.

Huggins (and fellow co-founders John Dunham and Steven Hazel) on Wednesday are announcing $3.1 million in Series A funding from Contrarian Group and a number of angels for Sauce Labs--billed as the company the makes cross-browser testing via Selenium easy to use. The company will provide services and support and additional software offerings on top of the open source project.

Sauce Labs also uses cloud services to make testing with Selenium testing easier than running on your own server infrastructure. Sauce On-Demand, is a hosted offering that allows you to remotely test web applications across various browsers in the cloud.

Huggins said this is an intersection between open source and the cloud that makes sense. By offering a cloud-based version of Selenium, users have the ability to parallelize their test and use cloud resources on demand in order to take advantage of a large number of instances in the cloud and get test results and bug reports must faster.

The company will soon announce the release of Sauce IDE which, according to Huggins, "...allows users to tap directly into the Sauce OnDemand cloud-hosted Selenium service while getting access to a sophisticated Selenium test infrastructure without all the back breaking and mind-numbing work. It just makes sense."

Makes sense, indeed. But, buzzwords aside, will users and more to the point, paying customers, embrace this new model? Stay tuned.